To say that we expected this third season of “Master of None” is a no-brainer. The first two parts of this American series created by stand-up comedian Aziz Ansari had charmed us with their solar side, enthused by an overflowing creativity. The New York (and Italian) tribulations of Dev (a character played by Aziz Ansari himself), a second-rate kitchen fan actor chaining disastrous romantic relationships, rang true, made people laugh and think, garnering a rain of good reviews and of rewards.
For this third season, put online this Sunday on Netflix and which will have taken more than four years to be released (the series was put on hiatus in 2017 following a case of harassment targeting its creator), it is a 180 ° turn operated by Aziz Ansari, director of these five new episodes varying between 20 and… 55 minutes.
Bye bye New York, hello marriage problems
First of all, the setting changes: exit Brooklyn, we find ourselves in the middle of the American countryside, one hour from New York. The main character also changes: bye-bye Dev (we only see Aziz Ansari for a few seconds on the screen), it is now the couple formed by Denise (Lena Whaite, co-writer, former supporting role of the fiction) and her wife, Alicia (Noami Ackie), who are at the center of the debates. More annoying, the tone also changes: finished the bittersweet comedy, “Master of None” plunges head first into the marital drama.
Clearly, we no longer find any ingredient in the recipe that made the success of the first editions. We may have the best intentions (which is the case here) and a certain know-how, it is not with apples and strawberries that we make a tiramisu (a culinary metaphor that would not have been denied. Dev in the previous two seasons). Aziz Ansari has, in fact, concocted a series that has nothing to do with his beginnings, which explains the convoluted name given to this sequel: “Master of None presents Moments in love”. As if the official series presented a simple variation, a variation on a radically different theme.
To film the ups and downs of Denise and Alicia as well as their thwarted desires to have a child, Aziz Ansari visibly eyed the side of Ingmar Bergman and his “Scenes of married life”. Still shots as long as a day without a night, close-ups of a spider’s web or the barrier of a field … Its realization quickly annoys by its too intense “arty” side, especially since the whole is singularly lacking in finesse (oh well, Denise’s mistress forgets as if by chance her panties at the foot of the sofa). We are surprised to imagine what a film by Dany Boon wanting to do Téchiné would look like.
There are indeed, here and there, some scenes of great beauty (the dance in front of the fireplace, the shared bath), some pretty ideas. The strongest is obviously to choose two black women and lesbians as the main characters. The actresses are convincing, Alicia’s obstacle course to have a child is grueling with so many injustices. But the best intentions don’t make the best series. And all along – with the exception of a last more solar episode – the usual playfulness of “Master of None” gives way to deep boredom.
EDITOR’S RATING: 1.5 / 5
“Master of None presents: Moments in Love”, Aziz Ansari, with Lena Waithe, Naomi Ackie… Five episodes of 20 to 55 minutes. Available on Netflix.